The longest bridge on the new N22 bypass moved a giant step closer to completion this week, as the main section of the structure traversing the Bohill River near Baile Mhúirne was moved into place.
The two-span bridge will be 121 metres long when complete and comprises one span of 80.5m and a second of 40.5m, crossing the Bohill River and a local road near the Mills Inn at Cappagh West.
The structure’s girders were made by Spanish company Tecade and transported from Seville to the Gaeltacht village in January.
The bridge deck structure was assembled onsite and moved into place on Thursday in a process known as ‘push launching’ onto piers over the road and river.
In December, the Macroom-Baile Mhúirne bypass saw the creation, near its eastern end, of a bridge over the River Laney at Coolyhane, using the longest precast concrete bridge beams in Ireland and the UK, at 49.9m.
Main contractors Jons Civil Engineering/John Cradock JV (CJV) also constructed the intermediate pier of the Bohill River bridge near Baile Mhúirne in December, in the largest continuous concrete pour on the project to date, comprising 232 cubic metres of concrete, weighing 560 tonnes.
The bridge pier incorporates 12km of steel reinforcing bars, weighing an additional 28 tonnes.
The process of moving the giant structure into place over the course of several hours provided a spectacle for onlookers, not least PJ Creedon, whose house is just yards from the new bridge and is surrounded by bypass construction work.
“It’s breathtaking,” he said.
Mr Creedon had initially planned to move out of his home when construction work arrived at his doorstep, but decided instead to stay.
“You can’t stop progress,” he said. “I bought a camper van to go away while they were at it and because of Covid I can’t. But I wouldn’t now anyway — I’m enjoying it too much.”
Environmentally, the site of the bridge pier is particularly sensitive, and according to the contractors, “working in close proximity to the Bohill River carries significant environmental responsibilities, especially for the protection of the salmonid species in the river, which are vital to sustaining the endangered Freshwater Pearl Mussel”.
A statement said:
The 22km bypass project, which was sanctioned to continue construction during Covid-19 level 5 lockdown, involves a total of 18 road bridges and is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.